Coroner to deliver judgment July 8 over Synagogue Building Collapse

PIC.5. RUBBLE OF THE COLLAPSED BUILDING AT SYNAGOGUE CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS IN LAGOS ON SATURDAY (13/9/14). 4543/13/9/14/MA/CH/NAN
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 A Lagos State Coroner’s Court will on Wednesday deliver judgment in its inquest into the collapse of a building within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN) on Sept.12, 2014.
The Coroner, Mr Oyetade Komolafe, had on June 2 fixed the date after parties in the inquest adopted their final written addresses and made their final submissions.
Komolafe had also thanked all those who made meaningful inputs in helping the inquest to arrive at a just judgment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inquest was instituted under the Lagos State Coroner’s System Law No. 7 of 2007 for the purpose of establishing the cause and manner of the incident.
NAN recalls that 116 persons, mainly South Africans, were killed after the six-storey building collapsed.
The inquest commenced sitting on Oct. 13, 2014 and also visited the collapse scene on Oct. 16,2014.
Evidence were taken from several witnesses including the Lagos State Building Control Agency and the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.
It also took evidence from the Lagos State Ministry of Works, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, National Emergency Management Agency, Nigerian Red Cross Society and the Police.
Others who testified are the Surveyor-General of the state, the SCOAN building contractors, Standard Organisation of Nigeria and the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.
However, the founder of the church, Prophet Temitope Joshua, failed to appear before the inquest despite the summons of the coroner.
In his final address, SCOAN’s counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, had maintained that the collapse was caused by external factors.
Ojo, who relied on the testimony of an explosives and weapons expert, Mr Biedomo Iguniwei, suggested that the building might have collapsed due to infrasonic radiation.
He also argued that the non-existence of a building plan for the collapsed building as alluded to by the Lagos State Government had nothing to do with its structural integrity.
Ojo maintained that due process was followed in the award of the contract and competent engineers were engaged for the construction.
According to him, if anyone must be questioned for the building collapse, it should be the engineers and not the Synagogue Church of All Nations.
Concluding, Ojo advised the Lagos State Government to take appropriate steps to regularise the building construction and approval applications shown to be pending with the relevant state agencies.
In its submission, the Lagos State Government had insisted that the inquest must be guided by section 40 of the coroners law.
The section bestows on it the role to find out who the deceased are, when and how they died.
The state counsel, Mr Akingbolahan Adeniran, noted that the issue of who the deceased are and when they died had been resolved by the pathological report prepared by the state chief medical director, Prof John Obafunwa.
Adeniran said the inquest must only concern itself with how they died, adding that in arriving at its conclusion, the inquest should resolve four issues in favour of the state.
He said the issues included lack of access to the collapse building site, illegality in the construction of the building, alleged sabotage and structural defect.
According to him, the issues should be resolved in the interest of justice, using the body of evidence and testimonies of witnesses and experts which are unchallenged.
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